29 June 2008

The Trad Color Wheel

I have always enjoyed color. When I was 16, I developed my first roll of color slide film and was in awe of the images as I unrolled the film off the development tank reel. Everything had been black and white before. Suddenly, it was a new world. Cibachrome, Ektachrome, Fujichrome...and primary colors were my target.

Those primary colors have stayed with me a long time. The shirt and bow tie pictured here would never be considered Trad by some. Or many. I think it is. Despite the double cuff, elegant collar and British origins of this kit - - It is Trad. Why? Because it has soul. In a world where I can't tell fabric softener commercials from the ones for toilet paper; I revell in color and design and history that speaks to me. The challenge, as any Trad knows, is to do it without paying full freight.

Those enamled cuff links were stolen at an auction in Philadelphia. A city where even the gay men dress poorly. The shirt was stolen at a Turnbull & Asser sale and the bow tie was found at Filenes for $9.99. Kodachrome 25 was always a mother to shoot. But the color was vivid and deep. One good exposure out of 35 bad ones was not only acceptable... it was reason to celebrate. In some odd way, I connect my love of photography and images to the colors I wear. It's shallow. It's vain. But it's the most fun you can have - - with your clothes on.


Tim said...

It’s a great combination and a great look! And it certainly is traditional. The idea that traditional dress was a narrow and rigid style is revisionist history comically bolstered for those newly arrived by works intended as parody such as The Preppy Handbook. The man who wore a Harris Tweed sack odd jacket at a casual occasion might very well turn up sporting a Savile Row DB suit with Jermyn Street kit for a more formal one. The Ivy League was the wellspring of what is now called traditional American men’s style. And Ivy League graduates were generally sophisticates, not bumpkins. See: Anthony Drexel Biddle

Anonymous said...

Tintin, Top drawer. The ensemble may not be considered Trad by some on the internet, but what the he#@, this is Real Life Trad. It suggests a nearly sacred Ivy connection with England. HTJ is very fond of English spread collars in addition to the standard issue OCBD. The conservative navy bow tie is perfectly paired with that vigorously striped shirt. The cufflinks (double-sided?) are a masterful stroke. What was the jacket?

Anonymous said...

I love the look. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...

I myself would have preferred white dots on the bowtie, so that the navy of the tie would contrast with the shirt, while the white dots of the tie would be in harmony with the white of the shirt. Otherwise, you've got more of a clash than a contrast.


tintin said...

Tim-Thank you for your comments and insight. A great observation about dress and one which I agree with 100%.

HTJ- Always great to hear from you. Those are double links. Not a fan of swivels. The great thing about primary colors is they look great with navy, grey, even tan suiting.

Cowtown- Thanks and do you know Hogtown?

oldtrad- Thank you. "Picking up a color" is just as right as picking a contrast. As I get older I seem to enjoy contrast more. Pink & Green. Green & Orange. Orange & Purple. And Blue, yellow and red.

Unusual shirting: yellow university stripe, red and blue butcher stripe, red gingham...all are critical to pulling off contrast so that it's rich, tasteful and erudite.

Look at the windows of a Men's Wearhouse and then J Press or Paul Stuart. The use of color and contrast explode at Stuart and Press but are AWOL at Men's Wearhouse where earth tones and the odd matching of a tie color to a shirt color appear to rule.

Anonymous said...

tin-tin, the willingness to work in those british elements is definitely a type of trad. A better dressed type of trad. If I weren't already overdressed all the time I'd do it myself. Life in the sticks.

tintin said...

longwing- I know what you mean about the sticks. NYC is an easy place to knock this out. NE Florida is another story where a shirt and tie are considered black tie by the locals and the only people wearing suits are defendants. I swear, people still point at planes down there.

songin30days said...

OK - I'm new to this site and the idea of Trad dressing, but I've been searching for it for a long time. Help me out: what is recommended reading for the newly converted?

tintin said...

songin30-Recommended reading is a great question. I'd like to post some thoughts, forums and books as well as films. But I gotta go out and make a living. I'll answer your question tonight and may post something on the blog as well.

tintin said...

songin30-There's not a book out there about Trad. Why? Too many different Trads. The Southern Trad dresses very differently from the San Francisco Trad versus northeast versus the "Fogey" counterpart in the UK. Most important, figure out what you like and focus on your authentic self.

My first book was Bruce Boyer's, "Elegance" published in the late 80s. Despite way too much history and what seems a boilerplate format, it's a great book to start out.

Next, Alan Flusser's, Style and the Man. A world wide buyers guide to not only great old stores (some gone since it was published in 96) but interesting styles in different cities.

Visit the Trad forum at Ask Andy About Clothes. Good basic training. The forum, Film Noir Buff, is more advanced and very esoteric. I like it a lot. Not as stiff as Ask Andy.

The London Lounge is another great forum. Some heady stuff going on here. Guys who scour the world's fabric stores looking for that certain wool milled in Scotland in 1922. Custom Charvet ties for members. Serious with little humor but valuable.

Films from the early 60s nail the look. Nothing like George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffanys. A retro look recently is Down with Love. Amazing clothes and a take off of the Doris Day and Rock Hudson films. The costume guy nailed this period. Beautiful suits and tie/shirt combinations that will give you beau coups inspiration.

I always liked Otter in Animal House and learned more about the character and his preferences when National Lampoon did a book of the movie.

Go to YouTube and search for Newport Jazz Festival. Clips from Bert Stern's, "Jazz on a Summer Day" shot at the '58 festival are also great inspiration. The film is being shown this Friday in NY. I have my tickets.

I guess the point is inspiration and not copying from a picture. Learn the history and love the hunt for what you really love.

songin30days said...


Wow - thank you so much. I've got a lot of digging to do, but it seems a lot more profitable than reading GQ and chasing trends.